Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Engine Runs On Glue And Tar

Taking a moment to step aside from the on-going circus surrounding the identity (or gender, or race) of the next Doctor, which is a blessed relief, frankly, the question over who would take on Doctor Who's visual effects in the future was answered with the announcement of a new company formed by the same creative team that worked on the show's previous series. Milk's founders are managing director Nick Drew, with visual effects supervisors Jean-Claude Deguara and Nico Hernandez, Sara Bennett and Murray Barber, with the executive producer and overall CEO of the company being a name and face familiar to fans through Doctor Who Confidential, Will Cohen. Will released a statement about the company's vision: 'Milk aims to be the most sought after visual effects team in what we believe is blossoming into a thriving industry for high-end TV visual effects. Our new venture is timed to enable us to capitalise on the new tax breaks in the UK as we expect to see an influx of TV work, as well as continued feature film work, coming to London over the next few months and beyond.' The company is also working on Steven Moffat's eagerly anticipated third series of Sherlock and a new BBC One mini-series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (due to be broadcast in 2014). A showreel of their previous work can be viewed on the company's website. Tasty.

Germany, meanwhile, will become the latest country to enjoy the latest series of Doctor Who, with entertainment channel FOX premiering the first half of the series this coming Saturday, 8 June from 8:15pm. The series will then immediately be followed by the 2012 Christmas Special in the early hours of Sunday morning. Episodes scheduled are Der Dalek In Dir, Dinos Im All, Wilder Westen, Zusammengewürfelt, Die Macht Des Wortes and Die Schneemänner. Das ist gut.
Broadchurch's Olivia Colman - who will not be the next Doctor no matter what a bunch glakes writing for the tabloids reckon - has been cast as the lead in BBC2's The Thirteenth Tale. The wonderful Colly, probably the most in-demand actress current working in Britain, will play the biographer Margaret Lea and is joined by Vanessa Redgrave in the one-off ninety-minute drama. Based on Diane Setterfield's novel, The Thirteenth Tale follows ageing novelist Vida Winter (played by Redgrave), who enlists Margaret to tell the story of her life, including her mysterious childhood at Angelfield House. The project, written by Christopher Hampton and directed by James Kent, is described as 'a haunting psychological mystery.' Sounds great. 'I was delighted to take on Ms Setterfield's ingenious mystery,' said Hampton. 'It's been a great pleasure re-engaging with the brave new world of Twenty First Century television drama. I may have to come back for more.' Filming is scheduled to begin in June and The Thirteenth Tale will be shown on BBC2 later this year.

Shaun Evans will be returning for a second series of the Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour, it has been confirmed. Which is good. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping rather enjoyed the recent four-part series set in 1965. Evans took on the role of young Morse in a feature-length special in 2012 and it was a ratings hit. The first full series broadcast earlier this year and regularly drew overnight audiences of over five million viewers. Evans will continued to star in the drama alongside the excellent Roger Allam, who plays Morse's mentor Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. ITV's director of drama commissioning Steve November said: 'The audience's response to the classic crime partnership of Endeavour and Thursday has been incredible and we're thrilled at the prospect of more Endeavour stories written by Russell Lewis and produced by Mammoth Screen.' Series two will start production in Oxford later this year. The second run will feature a further four two hour episodes. 'We're truly delighted by the audience's reaction to the first quartet of Endeavour stories, and very grateful to ITV for the opportunity to further embellish the legend,' said writer Russell Lewis. 'As to where we'll be going next time out, 1966. The year of Revolver. In the Bodleian. With Miss Scarlet. "They think it's all over.." It's only just started, matey!' Terrific.

BAFTA-winning actress Sheridan Smith has quit as Jonathan Creek's partner because she is too busy with other projects. So, she's not going to be the next Doctor either, then! BBC 'bosses' (tabloid-speak for producers) said that the actress 'would be missed' when the series, which stars yer actual Alan Davies in the title role, returns for a three-part run in early 2014. Sarah Alexander, who was introduced to the show at Easter as Jonathan's wife, Polly Creek, is to take over in the role of his partner in crime detection. Sheridan, who has played online paranormal investigator Joey Ross since 2009, pulled out because the filming dates clash with her next theatre project. She is to play Titania opposite David Walliams as Bottom in a West End production of A Midsummer Night's Dream from September. A BBC spokesman said: 'We have absolutely loved having Sheridan as part of the Jonathan Creek family for the last few years but she is, of course, ever in-demand as a performer, and is increasingly busy with other commitments. The series has a well-known reputation for regular regeneration in terms of Creek's assistants, and now it's time for the baton to be passed once again. We were very excited to start working with Sarah Alexander on The Clue of the Savant's Thumb and look forward to continuing that relationship, as well as welcoming the usual glittering array of much-loved dramatic and comedic stars in various guest roles over the forthcoming series, which is due to be broadcast on BBC1 next year.' Sheridan, who won a BAFTA earlier this month for her role as Charmian Biggs in the ITV series about the wife of the great train robber and former Sex Pistol, Ronnie, was 'thrilled' when she was asked, by writer David Renwick, to join the cast of Jonathan Creek in 2009. She was following in the footsteps of Caroline Quentin, who was Jonathan's first helper when the show launched in 1997, and Julia Sawalha. She has explained: 'It was such an honour when David asked me to be the sidekick - I remember screaming and going mad.'

Frankie regained over half-a-million punters for its fourth episode on BBC1, overnight data reveals. The Eve Myles-fronted drama recovered from its dip in the ratings the previous week due to a schedule-swap with The Apprentice, attracting 3.92 million viewers at 9pm. Later, the documentary Unspeakable Crime: Rape was seen by 1.53m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, the Queen's Coronation sixtieth anniversary highlights brought in 1.13m at 7pm. Springwatch held steady at 2.55m at 8pm, followed by Town with Nicholas Crane with 1.64m at 9pm. ITV's Animal Heroes attracted 1.79m at 8pm, while Dirty Britain fared even worse, securing a lowly 1.55m at 9pm on, soaps aside, a horrible night for the commercial broadcaster. Both shows were beaten not only by BBC1 and BBC2 but, in the case of the latter, by both Channel's Four Five as well. One imagines some bright spark at ITV who commissioned those turkeys is, this morning, having his office door slammed, harshly, against his knackers before he's asked to clear it out. Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies Live was watched by 1.25m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours in A&E interested 2.09m at 9pm, followed by its Making Of spin-off which attracted nine hundred and two thousand viewers at 10pm. On Channel Five, the latest episode of CSI had an audience of 1.73m at 9.15pm, while Body of Proof was seen by 1.19m at 10pm. BBC3's new, much-trailed documentary series The Call Centre scored the biggest multichannel ratings of the night with 1.05m at 9pm. On Sky1, the opening episode of the third series of Mad Dogs returned with four hundred and seventy three thousand at 9pm. And, very good it was too, albeit, even more far-fetched than either of the two previous series! Not that that's, necessarily, a bad thing.

Meanwhile, millions of cable and satellite TV viewers were unable to watch ITV on Tuesday night - not that they missed much, it should be noted - prompting the broadcaster to schedule a hastily rearranged repeat of an hour-long Emmerdale. The channel went missing from Sky and Virgin Media homes in areas around the country for two hours, beginning about 6.20pm. ITV blamed 'technical problems' at transmitter company Arqiva. The broadcaster said that different ITV regions were affected for differing lengths of time, with some, understood to include London, entirely unaffected. Poor bastards. Viewers who lost their standard definition feed were still able to watch on ITV HD, however. Freeview homes were not affected at all. With viewers taking to Twitter to complain they had not been able to watch Emmerdale, which pulled in 5.3 million viewers at 7pm, ITV repeated the soap at 10.35pm, with its French Open Tennis highlights put back. The repeat attracted another eight hundred thousand viewers. ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart claimed on Twitter the so-called transmission 'flop' had cost the channel's early evening news bulletin 'about a million viewers' at 6.30pm, just after it went off air. Quite where he got that figure from, we simply don't know, especially as the actual overnight ratings weren't announced for another twelve hours afterwards. ITV said that normal service was 'resumed about 8.30pm.' So, Dirty Britain can't blame the fact that it got beaten by all four of the other terrestrial channels on that.

Stephen Fry has revealed he had to be brought back to the UK to be 'looked after' last year after attempting suicide while filming abroad. In an interview for Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, Fry said: 'I took a huge number of pills and a huge [amount] of vodka.' The broadcaster revealed his producer found him 'in an unconscious state.' Fry, who has bipolar disorder, has openly discussed his struggle with mental health issues in the past. During the recording with Herring, in front of a live audience at the Central London theatre, Fry said it was the first time he had said in public that he is not always happy. 'I am the victim of my own moods, more than most people are perhaps, in as much as I have a condition which requires me to take medication so that I don't get either too hyper or too depressed to the point of suicide.' Fry revealed the incident took place in a hotel room, adding the mixture of drugs and alcohol 'made my body convulse so much that I broke four ribs. It was a close run thing,' he said. 'Fortunately, the producer I was filming with at the time came into the hotel room and I was found in a sort of unconscious state and taken back to England and looked after.' Stephen told the audience that in light of his role as president of the mental health charity, Mind, he wanted to be open about his feelings. 'The whole point in my role, as I see it, is not to be shy and forthcoming about the morbidity and genuine nature of the likelihood of death amongst people certain mood disorders.' He added that there is 'no reason' for someone wanting to take their own life. 'There is no "why", it's not the right question. There's no reason. If there were a reason for it, you could reason someone out of it, and you could tell them why they shouldn't take their own life,' he said. The actor, writer and comedian previously attempted suicide after walking out of the West End play Cell Mates in 1995 - an event he recounted in an acclaimed documentary for BBC2 called The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. Stephen made his return to the West End stage in November 2012 as Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He will feature in The Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as the Mayor of Laketown, due for release in December.

The BBC has released the first picture of Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter in costume for its biopic about the final act in the twenty year on-off-on-off-again relationship between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Burton & Taylor will focus on the final reunion of the pair, already married and divorced twice, on the set of a 1983 stage revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives. The ninety-minute BBC4 drama will chart the actors' fraught stint in the play, which opened at Boston's Shubert Theater in April 1983 before moving to Broadway and Los Angeles. The meeting on the set of Private Lives reportedly left both actors feeling that their union was, irrevocably, broken. Burton died the following year at the age of fifty eight. Taylor died from heart failure in March 2011, aged seventy nine. The casting of Taylor and Burton in Coward's comedy about a divorced couple running into each other in France while honeymooning with their new spouses played on the public's fascination with their own tempestuous relationship. New York magazine reported at the time of the 1983 staging: 'Taylor and Burton, scarred survivors of tabloids and marital wars, were wheeling their circus into town before a ten-week run in New York, and the paparazzi were ready to descend. Bodyguards had been hired, and the cognac diamonds hauled out of the vault. Burton was recovering from back surgery, and Taylor talking about her haematoma from the car crash in Israel.' The piece noted that the play's Boston run was sold out but had received a savage panning from the Boston Globe's theatre critic. It also detailed the celebrity circus which surrounded the pair, with a coterie of press agents flying in and out, and barriers against the hordes of fans outside the theatre, some clutching copies of Kitty Kelley's warts-and-all unauthorised biography of Taylor. The play was a commercial success but generally disliked by critics. The LA Times reviewer described it as 'Liz and Dick crassly spoofing themselves in public. It's part Private Lives and [part] private joke.' Taylor and Burton were both married when they began an affair on the set of the 1963 epic Cleopatra, scandalising the Vatican, which described their behaviour as 'erotic vagrancy.' They were married between 1964 and 1974 and then again between 1975 and 1976. The drama, written by William Ivory and directed by Richard Laxton, is something of a swansong for BBC4, the last in a successful series of often superb biopics about public figures including Margaret Thatcher, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd and Hughie Green. BBC4's budget was savagely cut last year as part of the corporation's crassly pointless Delivering Quality First cost-saving initiative. As a result, the channel is commissioning less original drama (for which read 'almost no original drama'). Still, at least it's still got Borgen and Spiral. For the moment.
Former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has pleaded not guilty to charges related to phone-hacking. Several other former Scum of the World journalists who appeared at Southwark Crown Court also pleaded not guilty to the charges they face. Revelations about phone-hacking led to the closure of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World in shame and ignominy July 2011. Brooks, forty five, also denied allegations of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Other Scum of the World employees who also pleaded not guilty to charges related to phone-hacking included former assistant news editor James Weatherup and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who was also former editor of both the Scum of the World and the Sun, denied two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office - one between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012 and a second between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008. The charges related to perverting the course of justice alleged that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and her personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, who also denies the charge, tried to remove boxes of archived material from the News International archive between 6 and 9 July 2011. In a second count, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, her husband, the millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, former News International head of security Mark Hanna, security staff Lee Sandell and David Johnson, and driver Paul Edwards all denied conspiring to pervert the course of justice. They are alleged to have hidden documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers investigating allegations of phone-hacking and corruption of public officials relating to the Scum of the World and the Sun between 15 and 19 July 2011. The Scum of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman also appeared in court and denied two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. All the defendants were released on bail and are due to face trial later in the year.

A former Metropolitan police officer who sold information to the Sun about the Duchess of Cambridge, former footballer Paul Gascoigne, Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing and a fifteen-year-old girl who died after taking drugs was jailed for two years in March, it was revealed on Wednesday. The court heard that Paul Flattley had been on the force barely a year when he started the 'sustained' provision of confidential information to the News International newspaper, which earned him a total of seven thousand six hundred quid. The officer, who was on the Met's rapid response team in Kensington and Chelsea, was imprisoned in March after he pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office but, for legal reasons, his crime could not be reported at the time. Over three years, from 2008, he provided a rapid response in contacting the paper thirty nine times, although the court heard that not all communication resulted in published articles. Just some of them. Flattley established 'a mutually beneficial relationship' with Sun journalist Virginia Wheeler, e-mailing or texting about incidents almost immediately after they had happened or helping to answer the paper's questions about royals or celebrities in the borough. For a good tip-off, he could earn seven hundred and fifty knicker, the court heard. His jailing could be reported for the first time on Wednesday after the Crown Prosecution Service announced it had decided to drop charges against Wheeler 'on medical grounds.' Prosecutor Mark Bryant Heron told Southwark crown court that he had asked the attorney general for 'nolle prosequi', which is permission to drop the Wheeler prosecution. However, Wheeler's QC, James Wood, told the court she would have 'vigorously contested' the charges if the prosecution had gone ahead. At the sentencing, Mr Justice Fulford said Flattley 'did not care' what effect his activities would have on the individuals whose privacy he invaded and that he was 'simply motivated by personal profit from the sale of what he, no doubt, believed was a good story.' In mitigation, Flattley's barrister said that his client passed on 'fairly low order' information and had offered to give evidence for the prosecution in a trial of the journalist. He said Flattley, who was awarded the baton of honour for being the outstanding officer of his intake, was 'full of shame and regret' and 'wished to apologise' to those whose personal details he passed on. Flattley was regularly called to incidents involving celebrities, footballers, politicians and protesters, ranging from minor traffic misdemeanours – Rausing, for example, has reportedly failed to stop at a red light – to those involving fatalities. The court heard how Flattley 'developed on eye for celebrity stories' on his patch, making his first contact with the Sun in 2008 when he tipped off a reporter that Gascoigne, who has battled with addiction for years, had been 'sectioned' by police. Flattley claimed this was because he was 'concerned' about the ex-England international and 'wanted to draw attention to his plight.' Flattley went on to sell stories about Zara Phillips, the politician Ann Widdecombe, another footballer Jack Wilshere and others who called the emergency services or were involved in incidents in the West London borough. Whether he was 'concerned' about any of those and wanted to 'highlight their plight', he didn't say. One day when he was off duty, the paper phoned to see if he could confirm rumours that the Duchess of Cambridge, then Kate Middleton, had become engaged to Prince William. He telephoned his former sergeant, then on Middleton's protection team, to ask if they knew of a pending royal engagement. He texted the reporter to say he would 'get one of our lads to do a few passes by her place' that day to 'see if there were any extra old bill' on duty, which might indicate an imminent announcement. The engagement was announced weeks later. In another incident, Flattley told the paper that the singer Mika's sister had fallen from a third-floor window, texting the reporter to say the woman was critically ill, adding 'Mika was there too, any good?' The reporter replied: 'Yes definitely, know if it was suicide attempt or accident?' and 'Do you know how high the building [was]?' For his assistance on this story, Flattley earned seven hundred and fifty notes. Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs, the senior co-ordinating officer for the Met's Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta, condemned Flattley's behaviour. 'Paul Flattley did not come on duty to serve the public; he came on duty to exploit them. He deliberately leaked information on thirty nine occasions, earning himself a total of seven thousand six hundred pounds in corrupt payments from the Sun newspaper. Flattley abused his privileged position as a police officer and the stories he sold had nothing to do with whistleblowing or the public interest. At the very time his colleagues were dealing with families whose relative had died or been horrifically injured, Flattley was callously selling information about them to a newspaper. He let down both the public he was paid to serve and his colleagues.' Flattley also tipped off the same Sun reporter about another case in which Isobel Jones-Reilly, aged fifteen, died after taking ecstasy she found in a university lecturer's drugs stash during a party at a friend's house in north Kensington. The court heard that Flattley had been on duty for ten minutes when he texted the paper, divulging the girl's address, that she had been pronounced dead and revealing that the house in question 'would be a crime scene for some time. One girl dead, one critical, one stable, one missing,' he texted. 'This could be as big as the Leah Betts tragedy.' In an impact statement read out in the court, Isobel's mother said that she was 'shocked' to learn about Flattley. 'It's very hard to comprehend that anyone would see fit to provide information to a journalist about our child for monetary gain,' she said. 'We expect our police to be beyond reproach as they hold a position of trust. We were powerless after Isobel's death, this has compounded our suffering and distress.' Fulford said the attitude revealed in the communication with the Sun reporter about people who were in his professional care was utterly reprehensible and an abuse of his public office. Flattley is the fourth police officer to be jailed as part of the Operation Elveden investigation into alleged corrupt payments to public officials from newspapers for stories. He has received the heftiest sentence so far for activities which the Met said had a corrosive effect on the public confidence in the police. The Sun also benefited from a tip-off about Edward Woollard, an A-level student who was arrested in 2010 for throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of the Conservative party headquarters in Millbank during the tuition fees riot. Flattley told the Sun journalist that Woollard was in custody in Belgravia and gave the paper his home address unlawfully. Some of the contacts concerned rumours that turned out not to be true about people including Widdecombe, whom the paper heard had been arrested for drink driving. 'I checked out all our systems there is no record of it,' Flattley told the Sun, which paid him one hundred smackers for his help. Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer with the CPS, whose team handles potential prosecutions in relation to the ongoing phone-hacking investigations and other related matters, said the case against Wheeler was dropped 'following expert medical evidence' relating to her health. 'In accordance with the code for crown prosecutors, which requires prosecutors to keep all cases under continual review, following receipt of further expert medical evidence relating to her health, the CPS has concluded that it is no longer in the public interest to prosecute Virginia Wheeler,' he said. 'Proceedings against Ms Wheeler were commenced on 22 January 2013 by way of summons for an alleged offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. The proceedings against Ms Wheeler have now been concluded.'

John McCririck, who is suing Channel Four for a reported three million smackers in damages over the loss of his job as the station's betting-ring reporter, said on Tuesday that he is now 'unemployable' and that adjusting to life without regular television work has been 'very hard.' And, we're all supposed to, what, feel sorry for him? Bollocks to that. 'You lose your purpose,' McCririck said. 'I've worked all my life. I've never missed a day's work in my life, I've never been late for a job in my life, you live to work. I've become a Jeremy Kyle addict.' McCririck was speaking at the end of a preliminary hearing into his case against Channel Four, which alleges that the station was 'motivated by ageism' when it dispensed with his services at the end of 2012 and not by the fact that they just didn't consider he was worth the money they were paying him. Justice Anthony Snelson has reserved judgment on whether the case should move to a full employment tribunal this year and is not expecting to deliver his ruling for several weeks. 'It is the same with hundreds of thousands of people who suddenly lose their jobs,' McCririck said. 'I'm now unemployable. People are saying to me, if you had your way, you'd go on until you're ninety or one hundred, [but] it is the ability to do the job. They have brought no one in who can do the job better than I can. It's been really stressful, it takes it out of you. I'm not doing any work now. I do odd little bits and pieces but there's no work coming in.' Yeah well, that's showbusiness, John mate. When my look go, I'm outta here as well, I know that. McCririck is claiming five hundred thousand smackers from Channel Four for loss of future earnings and two and a half million mucho wonga as a 'whopping, punitive punishment' for their, alleged, age discrimination. 'It's the only ambition I've got in life,' he said, 'to make a mark for anyone who fears for their job, [it is] the scourge of our society among older people.' Earlier in the day the hearing heard that Channel Four had made a payment of twenty grand to McCririck following a decision to reduce the number of days he worked for the station each year. 'Kevin Lygo [the senior Channel Four executive who authorised the payment] expressed to me that we didn't want a dispute with John,' Stuart Cosgrove, Channel Four's director of creative diversity, said in evidence to the hearing. 'And, we certainly didn't want a dispute spilling out into the press. At no stage did we ever feel threatened by John but what we did fear was that John's relationship with the press is one where his character attracts attention. We didn't want a public fallout with him.'

Filming has begun on Jason Byrne's new BBC1 sitcom Father Figure. Six half-hour episodes of the show – based on his Radio 2 series - are being filmed at Elstree studios. Byrne wrote and created the show, and will star in it as a hapless but enthusiastic stay-at-home dad. His wife is played by Karen Taylor. The core cast also includes Father Ted's Pauline McLynn, Bleak House actor Dermot Crowley and the excellent Michael Smiley (whom dear blog readers will know from Spaced and Luther), as well as appearances from Tim Downie, David Reed, Margaret Cabourn-Smith and Peter Serafinowicz. Byrne said: 'So the camera rolls on my new sitcom. The show is an eclectic mix of characters who are all based on my friends and family, and many of the things that happen to the Whyte family are drawn from my own experiences.' The BBC's controller of comedy production, Mark Freeland, said: 'When we first read Jason's scripts, we were struck by their warmth and authenticity. We have a wonderful cast and production team, and the unique and irrepressible talents of Jason. It's great that we have the chance to show this on BBC1.' Stephen McCrum, whose credits include Mrs Brown’s Boys, is executive producer. It is being directed by Nick Wood, who also worked on Lee Mack's Not Going Out and produced by Julia McKenzie, who had the same role on the radio version of Father Figure.

Mark Wright's proposed primetime show My Man Can has, reportedly, been axed by ITV after an unsuccessful pilot. The former The Only Way Is Essex regular is said to have filmed a pilot episode of the European relationship show format with Melanie Sykes. However, ITV 'bosses' (again, that's 'producers', only with less syllables) have allegedly scrapped alleged plans to allegedly broadcast the show, for being, allegedly, 'too rubbish', according to the Sun. My Man Can sees men being set challenges including eating raw chillies and limbo dances, while their partners gamble money on how well they will do. Sort of like Mr & Mrs. Only much crueller. Which, frankly, sounds like exactly the sort of show ITV normally bends over backwards to make. Sykes (seen left, holding her own boobies ... for not adequately explained reason) was the show's main host, while the risible Wright presented the challenge sections with the contestants. An alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'Once execs saw the rushes they just winced. The format was really complicated and it flummoxed Mark and Mel. Quite frankly, it made them look rubbish.' Which, in Wright's case, presumably, wouldn't have taken much doing. 'ITV bosses really like Mark and Mel,' continued the alleged 'insider', 'so hopefully they will do something else together. Mark is pretty gutted about it as he thought it went okay and he so wants to do primetime telly.'

The Brazilian Health Ministry has dropped an online campaign entitled I'm happy being a prostitute. The message was part of a wider education programme about sexually-transmitted diseases and was aimed at reducing prejudice against sex workers. Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said that he had 'never endorsed' the advert: 'I do not think this is a message the ministry should be sending,' he said. Critics in Brazil say the campaign 'glorified' prostitution. Padilha said the message was 'being tested' on the ministry's website, but it was not meant to be published. 'For as long as I remain in office, an ad like that will not be part of our campaigns,' he told Agencia Estado. The Brazilian government is highly praised for its AIDs programme, which includes the distribution of free condoms and a pragmatic approach to the problem in an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. But this is not the first time that the Health Ministry's campaigns have attracted criticism. Last year, the ministry dropped a video produced for the festive carnival period featuring a gay couple. The current campaign of awareness to sexually-transmitted diseases will go ahead, without the 'happy prostitute' reference. It's entitled 'Not ashamed of using a condom.' Brazil has experienced a boom in sex tourism in recent years. With widespread poverty in the country, many boys and girls enter prostitution at a very young age. The authorities at federal and state level have vowed to address the problem.

Having played like a right bunch of girls blouses in the last couple of ODIs, England's cricket team finally came good in the last match of the series against the touring New Zealanders before the start of the Champions Trophy on Saturday. England won by thirty four runs in the final one-day international at Trent Bridge as New Zealand claimed the series two-one. Ian Bell made eighty two but England's innings had, as in the previous two matches, stuttered and limped along with too many batsmen getting themselves in and then getting out just as they should have been pushing on to a big score. The team, however, was revitalised by Jos Buttler, who hit three sixes in a stunning forty seven not out off just sixteen balls. The young Somerset wicketkeeper/batsman shared an impressive and rapid partnership of sixty two in twenty four balls with Eoin Morgan (who recovered from a slow start to hit forty nine before being run out in the final over) as England posted a total of two hundred and eighty seven for six, scoring seventy six runs in the last four overs and one hundred and fourteen in the last ten. James Tredwell (three for fifty one) then dislodged Martin Guptill (thirty eight), who had made unbeaten tons in the first two games of the series, and the Kiwis ended two hundred and fifty three all out despite Ross Taylor's big-hitting seventy one. Although the series had already been lost, England wanted to avoid a first home whitewash since 2006 ahead of Saturday's Champions Trophy opener with Australia and recover some pride and impetus. Buttler's exploits and a greatly-improved display in the field helped to achieve just that but the early exchanges, with the floodlights on from the start in overcast conditions at Nottingham, offered little encouragement. Only six runs came from the first six tedious overs with Alastair Cook out LBW for a duck in the process. The England captain, surprisingly, decided to use his team's only review to challenge the decision by the umpire, the ex-England batsman Tim Robinson, standing in his first ODI. But, on his former home ground, the official's decision was vindicated as replays showed the ball crashing into Cook's leg-stump. Jonathan Trott's strike-rate, as ever, was the subject of much scrutiny as he made thirty seven from fifty three balls during a stand of sixty six with his Warwickshire team-mate Bell. But, just as the pair appeared on the verge of getting on top of the bowling, as so often this series Trott was adjudged LBW after playing across the line in the nineteenth over. Having completed a typically stylish twenty sixth ODI half-century, Bell looked set for a really big score but, softly, picked out mid-off for eighty two. With Joe Root having been, stupidly, run out for thirty three just four balls earlier, it left Morgan and the recalled Ravi Bopara, one of four changes in the England team, both on nought to face the five power-play overs. Both appeared painfully out of touch as Bopara was dropped on three and only twenty runs were scored in the next five overs. Eventually Bopara, who made a decent, but frustratingly incomplete twenty eight from thirty eight balls, was caught on the mid-wicket boundary but England's finisher, Buttler, almost surpassed his team-mate's score in just six deliveries from the experienced seamer Kyle Mills, dispatching a six and four fours. The batsman's vibrant hitting appeared to inspire Morgan, who launched Mitchell McClenaghan over long-on for a glorious six, the left-arm seamer clearly feeling the pressure as twenty came from a ten-ball over (including two wides and two no-balls). His first five overs had yielded just nine runs during which he'd picked up the wickets of Cook and Trott. With a mixture of innovation, extraordinary bat speed and elements of fortune, Buttler, who came to the crease at number seven for the final ball of the forty sixth over, was on the verge of the fastest fifty in ODI history. The final ball, a slow bouncer from Mills, was hooked valiantly but landed just short of the ropes and went for two runs - a six would have given Buttler the record. New Zealand started brightly and had Guptill to provide an emphatic response; after six overs they had amassed thirty nine with only Luke Ronchi dismissed and were well ahead of the required run rate. Having made three hundred and nineteen runs without being dismissed in his last three ODI innings, Guptill's golden run continued with his ruthless precision on the short ball and his driving through the off-side. England badly missed the rested James Anderson and though Stuart Broad was fit to return, he conceded thirty seven runs from his opening four overs, while Steven Finn, also back after injury, leaked twenty six from his first four. But the spinner James Tredwell, playing in place of the rested Graeme Swann, was brought on in the tenth over to throttle back the pace of the innings. England's highest wicket-taker with eleven in the three-two defeat in India in January, Tredwell claimed the prize scalp with only his fifth delivery as a sharply turning ball squeezed between Guptill's bat and pad as he pushed forward. Root, bowling his occasional off-spin, then ousted Kane Williamson for his first ODI wicket, Tim Bresnan dismissed Colin Munro first ball in the next over and Tredwell had the Kiwi's skipper, Brendon McCullum, caught at the wicket cutting to leave New Zealand one hundred and eleven for five in the twentieth over. Cook positioned himself in the gully and snared a sharp chance to dismiss James Franklin off Broad but the threat of Taylor and how England's part-time fifth and sixth bowlers (Root and Bopara) would fare remained an issue. Taylor swept Root over mid-wicket and into the car park and, when Tredwell returned with sixty seven needed from the final eight overs, Taylor hit him for successive sixes. He almost made it three in a row but was, ultimately, ninth out as Finn, the tallest man on the field, took a catch on the boundary and, feeling himself falling backwards, calming threw the ball to Bresnan before he toppled over the rope. The tourists were finally all out in the forty seventh over. The teams will meet again on Sunday week in the Champions Trophy, which begins on Thursday with India against South Africa in Cardiff.

A newly described six foot lizard which roamed South East Asia around forty million years ago has been named after The Doors singer Jim Morrison. Seen right, not holding his own boobies. The choice of name Barbaturex morrisoni is a play on the late frontman's epithet 'The Lizard King'. Higher temperatures at the time are thought to have helped the lizard evolve to its unusual size. The scientists were surprised to find that the reptile successfully competed for food against mammals. The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. A team of palaeontologists analysed fossils of the giant reptile and discovered it is the largest plant-eating lizard to have ever existed. It lived alongside other herbivorous and carnivorous mammals during the Eocene epoch. It was likely to have weighed about sixty pounds. Modern day lizards, like iguanas and agamids, are smaller than other herbivores and provide tasty meals for many larger predators. But Barbaturex morrisoni was larger than most carnivorous mammals. And competition for resources did not appear to restrict its evolution into such a large lizard, the study found. 'Reptiles and mammals co-exist most places on the Earth today. What is interesting about the Lizard King is that it was a large vegetarian co-existing and competing with other herbivorous mammals,' co-author Professor Russell Ciochon, from the University of Iowa, told BBC News. 'Large lizards on the Earth today, such Indonesia's Komodo Dragon, and in the past, such as the late Cretaceous Chinese Chianghsia nankangensis and the Pleistocene Australian Varanus priscus, are all carnivores. These large carnivorous lizards were eating the mammals they co-existed with, not competing with the mammals. The large size of the Lizard King certainly protected it from many predators. But there is no doubt that it was hunted by mammalian carnivores of the day.' Lead researcher, Jason Head from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln believes his research will show how climate helped the reptile evolve. 'We think the warm climate during that period of time allowed the evolution of a large body size and the ability of plant-eating lizards to successfully compete in mammal faunas. You can't fully understand the evolution of ecosystems in the modern world without looking at the ones that preceded them,' Doctor Head added. 'By going back in time using the fossil record, we can find unique information on the origin of modern ecosystems. I was listening to The Doors quite a bit during the research,' Head said. 'Some of their musical imagery includes reptiles and ancient places, and Jim Morrison was of course "The Lizard King" [he could, as it were, do anything], so it all kind of came together.' Man.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, therefore, here's the original Barbaturex morrisoni his very, reptilian self.

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